Flipboard Review

Flipboard Review

Jul 11, 2012

I have always liked the idea of RSS readers and news apps, but I can easily say that the execution of these are somewhat disappointing. I want to like Google Reader but the constant managing of notifications and having to navigate to the actual story webpage are small things that just spoil the experience for me. I’m interested in the news more than smaller blogs, so maybe RSS was not really the best fit for me anyway. After maybe half a day of not checking up I would come home to 100+ notifications from all my major news outlets. I am very partial to certain news organizations but I still like to get other sides of the story. Looking for an RSS reader that also doubles as a news aggregator I stumbled upon Flipboard, and needless to say, I was impressed.

I fell in love with Flipboard the moment I started using it on my Droid. The whole app, visually is set up in square tiles that, literally, flip, up and down to reveal the next page on content. These tiles contain the different sources that are incredibly user customizable like the popular Metro user interface on new Window’s products. Simply pick some topics of interest; say, Technology, Sports, and Photography, and those tiles show up and contain news about each topic. Those stories are presented with a huge photo along with the title of the article and news source, and clicking on the title brings the full story, not just a link to an external webpage.

More than just a news aggregator, Flipboard offers the ability to include specific blogs in the news feed. The list of blogs available is impressive and there is the ability to add some through RSS. I love how these news stories and blog feeds are treated equally and being able to quickly switch between the two is so convenient. There is Facebook and Twitter integration and they do a good job, but it is not something that will replace their standard apps. There is also the option to create and account and back up everything for quick recovery, which I had to use, and went without a hitch.

So to tie this whole thing together I will give a quick run-through of a specific combination for anyone having a hard time putting this all together. Pulling open the app displays a large, WP7 Metro style 3×2 grid of tiles with everything that is normally read on the internet, on any smartphone in a gorgeous presentation. Flipboard is the closest I have seen a app of its kind come to actually reading a newspaper or magazine on my phone. For anyone looking for an app that is the perfect marriage of aggregated news, social networking, and RSS all tied up in an incredibly gorgeous and innovative presentation look no further. Flipboard is an amazing app and probably one of the most perfect news readers available.

iSync App Review

iSync App Review

Nov 17, 2011

Going out and calling your app iSync is a pretty bold move, and is usually used by app developers who have either a little too much hubris or who are just not confident enough in their app’s ability to sell on its own merit. iSync is a very ambitious app, that unfortunately is buggy, inconsistent, and could have used more time in development. This app aims to house all of your social networks, RSS feeds, and email in one place. This is an idea that has been done before, and done better.

Well start with arguably the most important component, Facebook. Integration with Facebook is an easy selling point, because Facebook’s mobile app needs some major work. iSync’s Facebook integration makes Zuckerberg’s mobile platform look like a shining beacon within the app world. There are too many problems here to list but the broken friend list probably probably produced the most head scratching. When trying to find a specific friend all I got was everyone on Facebook with a similar name but never the person, or even the correct name, I was looking for. Other problems make the service nearly unusable; for example, the profile viewer only shows the individual’s photo and their gender. Going to their wall allows you to view it but not comment on it, which basically defeats the purpose.

Yeah.

Fortunately, the other features fare better. Twitter integration works very well, but don’t look for it to replace your established app of choice. Frustratingly, I couldn’t get the email app to work, with it refusing to save my GMail login as well as being very, very thin on features. The RSS feature is a nice addition, but again, it’s not good enough to replace any RSS reader that you would already use. This is the central theme though out the entire app; the thrill of having all these services in one place is not enough to justify use of any of the individual apps.

ChannelCaster Brings Together Web Sites and Social Media for News Delivery

ChannelCaster Brings Together Web Sites and Social Media for News Delivery

Sep 21, 2011

OneLouder Apps are expanding beyond their range of traditional Twitter and Facebook clients; recently, they’ve started launching apps for browsing through content posted on social media and the web as a whole, with SportCaster and now their newest app, ChannelCaster. this app is designed to aggregate content for users that is located in specific channels for users to browse.

The app contains a variety of curated channels right from the outset covering a variety of topics. Users can then search for other “Tier 1” channels consisting of curated content from a variety of sources, including site RSS and Twitter feeds. My favorite channel? “Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things.” These channels can be added to the main screen of the app for browsing at a later date.

However, the most powerful feature of the app is the ability for users to build their own channels. By combining web searches, Twitter feeds, and RSS feeds, they can build their own channels with the relevant content that they want to see. For example, I created a channel for Texas Rangers tweets and sites that displays information from the people that I consider relevant to the team. It is possible to share these channels publicly within the app as well. RSS feeds can be searched from within the app, though it is possible to manually add RSS feed URLs below by copy and pasting them in to the app when building channels.

This app serves as a conduit to the vast amount of information available on the internet, and tries to find ways to pare it down and focus it to display as much relevant information as possible. While this is a practically impossible task, ChannelCaster tackles a lot of the issue in an interesting way, and offers users remedies for getting the information they want in the way they want, as well as discovering new sources through the channels provided by the app. ChannelCaster is available now as a free download.